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Revised November 2015 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

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The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, fell 0.9 percent in November from October, falling after a one-month rise, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s EmEdjimurjE’ (BTS). The November 2015 index level (122.0) was 28.8 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

October and November index numbers in the press release of Jan. 13 have been revised because of a revision in the October air traffic data used for the index. The October Freight TSI is revised to 123.1. It appeared as 123.5 in the Jan. 13 release. The November Freight TSI is revised to 122.0. It appeared as 122.3 in the Jan. 13 release.

Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2010 - November 2015

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Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2010 - November 2015

The level of freight shipments in November measured by the Freight TSI (122.0) was 1.4 percent below the all-time high level of 123.7 in November 2014 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.

Analysis: The Freight TSI decrease was unusually broad in terms of mode – all freight modes decreased. The decrease appears to have been driven by weakness in the mining (including oil and gas well drilling and servicing) and manufacturing sectors of the economy. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index declined in November by 0.6 percent, and the ISM Manufacturing Index was below 50, indicating declining manufacturing activity.  Elevated inventory to sales ratios may have also played a role.

Trend: The November 2015 Freight TSI decreased by 0.9 percent, leaving it 0.5 percent below its September level. The November decrease was the largest since February 2015. After fluctuations since February, the November TSI was 1.4 percent below the November 2014 high point. The index remains high compared to earlier years however, and has increased by 28.8 percent since its low of 94.7 in April 2009. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in November 2015 (122.0) were 28.8 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.7). The November 2015 level was 1.4 percent below the historic peak reached in November 2014 (123.7).

Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were down 1.1 percent in November compared to the end of 2014 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 13.6 percent in the five years from the post-recession level of November 2010 and are up 7.4 percent in the 10 years from November 2005 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: November 2015 freight shipments were down 1.4 percent from November 2014 (Tables 4, 5).

The TSI has three seasonally adjusted indexes that measure changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. The three indexes are freight shipments, passenger travel and a combined measure that merges the freight and passenger indexes. See Seasonally-Adjusted Transportation Data for numbers for individual modes. TSI includes data from 2000 to the present. Release of the December 2015 index is scheduled for Feb.10.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.1 percent in November from its October level (Table 6). The October Passenger TSI is revised to 124.3. It appeared as 135.9 in the Jan. 13 release. The November Passenger TSI is revised to 124.4. It appeared as 133.2 in the Jan. 13 release. The Passenger TSI November 2015 level of 124.4 was 4.2 percent above the November 2014 level (Table 7). The index is up 9.3 percent in five years and up 14.0 percent in 10 years (Table 5).  The passenger TSI measures month-to-month changes in travel that involves the services of the for-hire passenger transportation sector. The seasonally-adjusted index consists of data from air, local transit and intercity rail.

Combined Index: The combined freight and passenger TSI fell 0.6 percent in November from its October level (Table 8). The October Combined TSI is revised to 123.6. It appeared as 127.3 in the Jan. 13 release. The November Passenger TSI is revised to 122.8. It appeared as 125.6 in the Jan. 13 release. The combined TSI November 2015 level of 122.8 was 0.2 percent above the November 2014 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 12.2 percent in five years and up 9.2 percent in 10 years (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: This press release contains revisions to October and November data because of a major revision to the underlying data. For regular monthly release, monthly data changes from previous releases due to the use of concurrent seasonal analysis, which results in seasonal analysis factors changing as each month’s data are added.    

BTS research has shown a clear relationship between economic cycles and the Freight and Passenger Transportation Services Indexes. See a study of this relationship using smoothed and detrended TSI data. Researchers who wish to compare TSI over time with other economic indicators, can use the FRED database, which includes freight, passenger  and combined TSI, and which makes it possible to easily graph TSI alongside the other series in that database. See TSI data on FRED.   

For a webinar on the TSI, see Past Webinars. For a video explanation of the TSI, see Overview of the Transportation Services Index. A BTS report explaining the TSI, Transportation Services Index and the Economy, is available for download.

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Since May 2015

Percent Change from Previous Month

(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

 FreightPassengerCombined
IndexPct. ChangeIndexPct. ChangeIndexPct. Change
May122.30.6121.70.2122.20.5
June122.0-0.2122.40.6122.20.0
July123.00.8124.71.9123.61.1
August123.10.1122.6-1.7123.0-0.5
September122.6-0.4123.30.6122.9-0.1
October123.10.4124.30.8123.60.6
November122.0-0.9124.40.1122.8-0.6

SOURCE: EmEdjimurjE

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2012-2015

Percent change from previous month

 2012 % Change2013 % Change2014 % Change2015 % Change
January-2.62.0-1.6-0.5
February0.20.81.0-1.5
March-0.70.31.41.4
April0.4-0.80.7-0.8
May0.60.80.40.6
June0.80.4-0.7-0.2
July-0.4-0.10.70.8
August-0.50.30.60.1
September-0.20.30.3-0.4
October-1.9-0.30.70.4
November1.72.61.1-0.9
December0.1-1.1-0.2 

SOURCE: EmEdjimurjE

Table 2A: Freight Transportation Services Index by Month, 2012-2015

 2012201320142015
January111.9114.3116.2122.8
February112.1115.2117.4120.9
March111.3115.6119.1122.6
April111.8114.7119.9121.6
May112.5115.6120.4122.3
June113.4116.1119.6122.0
July113.0116.0120.4123.0
August112.4116.4121.1123.1
September112.2116.8121.5122.6
October110.1116.4122.3123.1
November112.0119.4123.7122.0
December112.1118.1123.4 

SOURCE: EmEdjimurjE

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Year-to-Date Change, 2006-2015

Percent change to November from December of the previous year

YearFreightPassengerCombined
2006-3.54.0-1.4
2007-0.13.30.9
2008-5.9-4.8-5.5
20091.0-1.00.3
20105.93.05.0
20112.91.82.5
2012-2.5-0.1-1.7
20136.52.15.1
20144.71.33.7
2015-1.12.70.0

SOURCE: EmEdjimurjE

Table 4: Freight Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the November Freight TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

 November Freight TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2006108.4-4.6
2007110.51.9
2008104.3-5.6
2009101.2-3.0
2010107.46.1
2011111.84.1
2012112.00.2
2013119.46.6
2014123.73.6
2015122.0-1.4

SOURCE: EmEdjimurjE

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 5: Transportation Services Indexes from Previous Years

Percent Change to 2015 (November to November)

Since November . . .Duration in yearsFreight TSI Percent change to November 2015Passenger TSI Percent change to November 2015Combined TSI Percent change to November 2015
20141-1.44.20.2
201322.25.03.0
201238.97.68.5
201149.18.08.8
2010513.69.312.2
2009620.613.918.5
2008717.012.415.4
2007810.46.19.0
2006912.510.011.7
2005107.414.09.2

SOURCE: EmEdjimurjE

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2012-2015

Percent change from previous month

 2012 % Change2013 % Change2014 % Change2015 % Change
January-0.50.7-0.4-1.4
February1.70.00.2-0.8
March-1.0-0.91.81.9
April-0.31.00.00.6
May-0.6-0.20.60.2
June0.30.8-0.60.6
July-0.3-0.80.31.9
August0.80.70.3-1.7
September0.1-0.2-0.20.6
October-2.00.30.30.8
November1.90.7-0.90.1
December0.4-0.51.4 

SOURCE: EmEdjimurjE

Table 7: Passenger Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the November Passenger TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

 November Passenger TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2006113.13.7
2007117.33.7
2008110.7-5.6
2009109.2-1.4
2010113.84.2
2011115.21.2
2012115.60.3
2013118.52.5
2014119.40.8
2015124.44.2

SOURCE: EmEdjimurjE

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2012-2015

Percent change from previous month

 2012 % Change2013 % Change2014 % Change2015 % Change
January-1.91.5-1.3-0.7
February0.50.60.8-1.3
March-0.80.01.61.5
April0.3-0.30.4-0.4
May0.30.50.50.5
June0.60.5-0.70.0
July-0.4-0.30.61.1
August-0.10.50.5-0.5
September-0.20.20.1-0.1
October-1.9-0.20.60.6
November1.82.00.6-0.6
December0.2-0.90.2 

SOURCE: EmEdjimurjE

Table 9: Combined Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the November Combined TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

 November Combined TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2006109.9-2.3
2007112.72.5
2008106.4-5.6
2009103.6-2.6
2010109.45.6
2011112.93.2
2012113.20.3
2013119.25.3
2014122.52.8
2015122.80.2

SOURCE: EmEdjimurjE

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Brief Explanation of the TSI

The Transportation Services Index (TSI) is a measure of the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire transportation industries. The freight index measure changes in freight shipments while the passenger index measures changes in passenger travel.

The TSI tells us how the output of transportation services has increased or decreased from month to month. The index can be examined together with other economic indicators to produce a better understanding of the current and future course of the economy. The movement of the index over time can be compared with other economic measures to understand the relationship of changes in transportation output to changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The freight transportation index consists of:
For-hire trucking,
Railroad freight services (including rail based intermodal shipments such as containers on flat cars),
Inland waterways transportation,
Pipeline transportation (including principally petroleum and petroleum products and natural gas), and
Air freight.

The index does not include international or coastal waterborne movements, private trucking, courier services, or the US Postal Service.

The passenger transportation index consists of:
Local transit,
Intercity passenger rail, and
Passenger air transportation.

The index does not include intercity bus, sightseeing services, ferry services, taxi service, private automobile usage, or bicycling and other non-motorized transportation.

Updated: Friday, December 15, 2017
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